Sunday, October 23, 2016

Great Bay Blvd 10/23--Vesper Sparrow

After being confined to quarters for the last day and a half by wind & rain (a Friday morning trip to Sandy Hook was aborted when the showers started much earlier than predicted), I took a run down to Tuckerton, despite knowing that the wind was not going to abate. I was hoping against hope for a Nelson's Sparrow at the inlet, but Nelson's Sparrow (in fact, most birds) like me, don't like wind. So while I managed to find one sparrow running in the grass, whether it was a Nelson's or a Saltmarsh is up in the air because it quickly hunkered down and wasn't coming out.

However, at the little grove of trees just before the beach at the end of the road, I espied, briefly, a largish sparrow, streaked on the breast, with an eye ring like a whitewall tire--Vesper Sparrow. It quickly dived down into the foliage and would not come up again, but this is the time of the year for these birds and Great Bay Blvd is the place I go for my (relatively) rare sparrows.

Usually I walk the road from the inlet up to the first wooden bridge (about 1.7 miles) then back, but with the wind today that seemed like it would be unpleasant. So, looking for someplace protected, I drove up to Stafford Forge WMA and walked in the woods, where there was very little in the trees and nothing in the water. I did, however, see a pheasant in the field. Unfortunately, pheasants are stocked there so it is uncountable. Too bad. Going by my idiosyncratic (or idiotic) counting rules, if I see a pheasant outside a WMA, like on the side of the road, I'll count it, figuring it is now "wild," whereas, if I know a bird is stocked in a WMA, I won't.

By far, the greatest number of a single species today was Boat-tailed Grackle. A conservative estimate would be 250. The picture below is just a sampling of the flock that was on the mud flats off the 2nd wooden bridge at dead low tide.

My wind-blown list for Great Bay Blvd:
17 species
Brant  50
American Black Duck  10
Double-crested Cormorant  25
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  35
Black-crowned Night-Heron  3
Northern Harrier  1
Black-bellied Plover  3
Semipalmated Plover  2
Dunlin  1
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Herring Gull  25
Great Black-backed Gull  10
European Starling  40
Yellow-rumped Warbler  10
Vesper Sparrow  1
Boat-tailed Grackle  250

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